Pine Glades access dispute

Pine Drive resident Jim Woodmencey stands near what used to be a trailhead into the Snow King Mountain trail system in the Pine Glades development. Woodmencey said the trailhead sign was obliterated and the trail blocked by large rocks when the development’s owner, John Tozzi, built a home nearby.

A disagreement over trail access on Snow King will continue to simmer at least until the Jackson Town Council’s July 6 meeting, when councilors are expected to make a decision on a proposed easement.

The latest proposal, brought to the town council by Jackson Senior Planner Tyler Valentine, seeks to maintain trail access to Snow King from the west, going around and through part of the Pine Glades development.

The newly proposed route goes past an affordable housing duplex on the downhill side of Pine Glades, below Jessica Lane, connecting with Wister Avenue. It would then travel 270 feet on Pine Glades Drive via a 5-foot-wide easement before reconnecting with the Snow King trail system.

That plan is not satisfactory for some Pine Drive residents, who would have to walk farther downhill to reach the trail than when they previously had access to the entirety of Pine Glades Drive.

Councilor Jim Stanford raised that point during the most recent round of discussions Monday, with Valentine confirming that Pine Drive residents would have to walk down to Wister Avenue to access the trail, rather than the more direct route they are accustomed to.

“I’m not happy with it,” said Jackson meteorologist Jim Woodmencey, who has owned his home on Pine Drive for 33 years, of the latest easement proposal. “I don’t think it addresses everything.”

Erica Nash, who serves as counsel for John Tozzi, developer of Pine Glades since buying it in 2017, addressed the council at the meeting, saying the stretch of road that would have the easement for pedestrians was selected because it was the widest stretch and thus the safest. Other sections of Pine Glades Drive are much narrower, essentially a one-lane road, Nash said, and adding pedestrian right-of-way there would create an unsafe situation.

In an interview with the Jackson Hole Daily, Valentine noted that, since public access is not being granted for the entire stretch of the road, as it was before Tozzi bought the property, that section was agreed to by Tozzi and the homeowners association because of its width.

The roadway there is 22 to 24 feet wide, whereas it’s only about 13 feet wide on other stretches, and that could create a hazard for people walking in those areas, even though, Valentine said, traffic moves slowly on Pine Glades.

During their regular meeting Monday, the council voted to continue the issue to a future meeting after a brief discussion, during which Mayor Pete Muldoon said his primary concern was that the neighbors in the affordable housing duplex were comfortable with the proposal.

“Knowing that the folks who live in the affordable units are OK with this, I’m inclined to move forward [with the plan Valentine proposed],” Muldoon said.

However, Councilor Arne Jorgensen moved to table it to ensure “all the I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed,” rather than rushing to pass the measure.

Mike has reported on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem's wildlife, wildlands and the agencies that manage them since 2012. A native Minnesotan, he arrived in the West to study environmental journalism at the University of Colorado.

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